The 2014 Eurovision That Almost Was: Semifinal One

It’s time for our annual posts that take a look at the Eurovision that could have been by reviewing the second place finishers at the National Finals. (You can find the previous Eurovision That Almost Was posts on our 20112012, and 2013 pages.). Putting this post together, we feel a twinge of regret and even some anger. For our money, this alternate universe of near misses would have been a better show than what we’ll get in May.

Armenia. Internal selection, not applicable.

Latvia. Dons, “Pēdējā vēstule.” The structure of Dziesma did Latvia a disservice this year. With “Pēdējā vēstule,” Latvia had a big Eurovision song and a professional, competent vocalist.  Dons was getting regular radio airplay in Latvia, and he has since had multiple charting singles on the Latvian pop charts. “Cake to Bake?” Not so much. At Dziesma, Dons won the jury and narrowly the public vote to take him to the Superfinal. Though he again won the jury in the Superfinal, Dons lost his bid to Copenhagen because the public went for “Cake to Bake” by a margin of 97 votes. In Latvia, tiebreak goes to the public.

Estonia. Super Hot Cosmos Blues Band, “Maybe-maybe.” In the first round of Eesti Laul voting, this bluesy rock singalong emerged as the surprise #1 pick of the Estonian jury and the televote. The song proved to be highly divisive with fans, however, and in the Superfinal the televoters turned out in droves, ultimately tipping the scales toward Tanja.

Sweden. Ace Wilder, “Busy Doing Nothing.” What a missed opportunity this was: a multi-week Swedish chart topper, with genuine potential to be an international hit. “Busy Doing Nothing” was catchy, cheeky, and immediate, and stands toe-to-toe with anything Kesha puts out. However, Ace Wilder was largely unproven–especially in comparison to long-time entrant Sanna Nielsen–and it would have been a bitch to get the vocals and staging right with the six person limit. Ace missed the win by only two points.

Iceland. Sigríður Eyrún Friðriksdóttir, “Up and Away.” An unholy mashup of Beyonce’s “Single ladies” and “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity, performed by Hayden Panettiere + 40 pounds. How did this make it to the Superfinal? Dire.

Albania. Klodian Kaçani, “Me ty.” An old-fashioned Balkan ballad that was bombastic but lacked any real impact. There was a big gap between Kaçani’s result and first place finisher Hersi Matmuja.

Russia. Internal selection, not applicable. Russia’s process was pretty chaotic this year. They first announced a national final to be held in December, then postponed it to March. But then in March, they pulled back and announced it would be an internal selection. Russia finally revealed their song right at the entry deadline, which was by all accounts a rush job. The rumor (denied by Philip Kirkorov) was that Russia had plans to send Sergey Lazarev, a well-known Russian pop singer, and a current judge on the Ukrainian The Voice. This was, of course, before all the…ahem…unpleasantness.

Azerbaijan. Khana Hasanova. “Start a Fire” was an internal song selection, but Azerbaijan held a television series to select the artist. In Boyuk Sehne, Hasanova proved herself an able vocalist across different music styles. She was good on camera as well. Still, Dilara Kazimova had a connection that left no doubt in our minds that she was the better choice.

Ukraine. Viktoria Petryk “Love is Lord.” Viktoria Petryk knows a lot about finishing 2nd. After all, she placed 2nd for Ukraine in the 2008 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. In the Ukraine selection this year, she trailed far behind Mariya Yaremchuk with the public, ultimately only managing 4th. Her 2nd place placement can be attributed to a boost from the judges. But because this is Ukraine, there were allegations after the contest that the phone lines were blocked for other contestants, which is what caused Yaremchuk’s runaway public victory. For what it’s worth, “Love is Lord” is an overwrought, oversung ballad, but it would have been a better choice than “Tick Tock.”

Belgium. Bandits, “One.” Ugh. I thought we had moved past the Arctic Monkeys. Of course, in the end it wasn’t really much of a contest. Axel Hirsoux’s victory was decided by 57% of the public televote, while second place Bandits received only 17%.

Moldova. Boris Covali, “Perfect Day.” You really have to wonder if the Moldovan organizers have it out for Boris Covali. “Perfect Day”–think Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” if it were a showtune–convincingly won the public televote (which, in the Moldovan national selection, is announced first) only to be spiked by the jury. The same thing happened to him last year. Too bad, because “Perfect Day” is far more coherent than “Wild Soul.”

San Marino. Internal selection, not applicable.

Portugal. Catarina Pereira, “Mea Culpa.” In 2010, Catarina Pereira convincingly won the public televote with “Canta Por Mim” (a more enjoyable song than Festival da Canção winner “Há dias assim”) only to have her song quashed by the jury. Pereira’s 2nd place finish in 2014 was deja vu, not in the least because “Mea Culpa” is basically the same song. This time, however, Pereira managed only 24% of public vote, well behind Suzy’s 42%. Pereira’s fans were livid, and after the contest, Pereira and another finalist launched complaints about the outcome.

Netherlands.  Internal selection, not applicable.

Montenegro. Internal selection, not applicable.

Hungary. Bogi, “We All.” We don’t definitively know who finished second in Hungary’s incredibly competitive national final because the results of the public SMS votes weren’t released. However, Bogi performed strongly throughout the A Dal selection process, and after the first round of voting in the final, her catchy, feel-good anthem (with special added bonus lemurs) managed a 2nd place ranking with the judges.


2 thoughts on “The 2014 Eurovision That Almost Was: Semifinal One”

  1. Good article. The main ones that would have improved ESC this year, & made it a much more interesting competition imho:

    Estonia – Traffic – Fur Elise
    Finland – Mikko Pohjola – Sängyn reunalla
    Latvia – Dons – Pedeja vestule
    Spain – Brequette – Más
    Malta – De Bee – Pin The Middle
    Hungary – Bogi – We all
    Belarus – I had a soft spot for Switter Boys but the real gem missed here was Elena Siniavskaya – Via Lattea –
    Germany – Madeline Juno – Error

    Norway’s Silent Storm is superb but so was Linnea Dale’s ‘High Hopes’ – it would have walked many other NFs this year.

  2. Rob, this is an interesting point. In previous years when we’ve done this post series, it was actually quite reassuring. There were maybe one or two instances per semi where we think they got it wrong (e.g., Denmark in every year but this one), but in most cases what goes instead is still okay and it boils down to personal taste. Conversely, there’s usually one or two instances where we are relieved that the jury saved us from the public (or vice versa) (ahem, Moldova).

    If for this year, in addition to the parallel universe. let’s say we add in omnipotence. Which of these songs in Semi 1 would I want to swap in the 2nd place finishers order to improve the contest?

    In this Semi, I would say there are 3: Latvia, Moldova, and Russia (assuming that Russia with any planning whatsoever would be an improvement on what we got). Ukraine, Portugal, Sweden had viable 2nd place finishers, but likely a negligible net gain for the quality of songs in contest.I agree with you that Traffic would have been a good choice for Estonia, but another possible negligible net gain.

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